The Nigerian Senate has urged the federal government to prioritise the funding and completion of the headquarter building of the National Library of Nigeria.
According to the upper legislative chamber, speedy completion of the building would mitigate the financial losses so far accrued on the project.
To ensure compliance, the Senate has also mandated its committee on Education to interface with the Ministers of Education and Federal Capital Territory and the Chief Executive of the National Library, with the view to adopting appropriation strategy that would ensure the completion of the project next year.
Senator Gbenga Ashafa (Lagos East), while leading a debate on the motion during Tuesday plenary, lamented that, “the continuous failure to properly fund the project within the specified period would cause the government losses modesty estimated to be in the range of 40 to 50 billion naira”.
He said, “if the failure to fund the project expeditiously continues, it might cost the government even more in the long run”.
Ashafa was particularly pained that, “57 years after the birth of Nigeria and with trillions of naira sunk in the development of Abuja, the National Library of Nigeria still operates from a rented building because it does not have a permanent site”.
He feared that the future of generations yet unborn would be in jeopardy, as a failure to properly fund the National Library project would greatly affect the capacity of the country in the area of proper documentation of historical documents, artifacts and archiving in general.
After been seconded by Senator Emmanuel Paulker (Bayelsa Central), the Senate unanimously resolved to rise in defence of the completion of the permanent site of the National Library.
The Senate also advised the federal government to be more strategic in the award of contracts with a view to embarking on only projects that can be adequately financed to the tune of its budgetary appropriation.
MP3BULLET recalls that, the National Library of Nigeria project was conceptualised by the federal government in 2002 but was awarded in 2006 to Messrs Reynolds Construction Company (RCC), at the sum of N8.590 billion with a project timeline of 22 months.
While the company commenced work in April 2006, it could not proceed due to the failure of government to release sufficient funds for the competition of the project, leading to its being revised 3 times over the period.
In February 2013, the contractor requested for the extension of time and reviewed the contract sum upward to the tune of N48bn.